Population and Environment

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 339–356 | Cite as

The effects of climate change on the geography and timing of human mobility

  • Jon BarnettEmail author
  • Celia McMichael
Original Paper


Human mobility over different distances and time scales has long been associated with environmental change, and the idea of climate change is now affecting movement in new ways. In this paper, we discuss three cases from the South Pacific to explain the ways anticipated climate futures are changing mobility in the present. First, we examine village relocation in response to coastal erosion and inundation in Fiji, drawing on our study of the unfolding experience of Narikoso village in Kadavu Province. In contrast to this spatially constrained process of permanent relocation, we examine the spatially extended yet temporally constrained seasonal migrant worker programme that aims to support economic development in the Pacific Islands by providing temporary work visas in Australia and New Zealand. Finally, we examine the likely effects of proposed open labour markets as a means to promote climate change adaptation, through a study of the analogous example of Niuean migration to New Zealand which has resulted in both permanent migration and a slow circulation of people between both countries. Across these examples, we highlight emerging and potentially constructive ways in which climate change is altering the spatio-temporal patterns and rhythms of mobility.


Climate change Islands Labour Migration Resettlement Temporality 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of GeographyThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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